German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that she is “open to the idea” of using European manufacturing capacities to increase the production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, a German government spokesperson said on Wednesday.
News of a Merkel-Putin call on Tuesday to discuss cooperation on vaccine production was first made public by the Kremlin that same day.
Speaking at a German government press briefing Wednesday, deputy spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said that Merkel had told Putin “that she is open to the idea of bilateral cooperation for the purpose of tapping European production capacities [for the Russian vaccine].” Demmer added that this would only happen if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives its approval to the Sputnik V vaccine.
The EMA said Tuesday it had not yet received an application for approval of the Sputnik V vaccine but was “in an early phase of interaction” with the Russian vaccine developer.
Merkel’s offer comes despite a significant deterioration of Germany’s and the EU’s relations with Russia following the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Consequently, Brussels sanctioned six senior Russian officials in October. Moscow reacted in December by hitting the EU with countermeasures.
German health ministry spokesperson Sebastian GÃ¼lde said that the potential manufacturing of the Russian vaccine in the EU had already been discussed between Health Minister Jens Spahn and his Russian counterpart during a call in December. “As soon as an application for approval has been submitted to the EMA, it will also be reviewed,” GÃ¼lde said.
Carlo Martuscelli contributed reporting.